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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 7th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 9 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 9

New therapeutic foster care program helps children in need

BY AMY ASMAN

Children in the Santa Barbara County foster care system who have experienced developmental trauma now have an extra, specially designed resource on which to rely.

The county’s department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services (ADMHS)—in collaboration with the department of Social Services and Family Care Network Inc.—recently launched Intensive Therapeutic Foster Care (ITFC), a new program serving foster children with serious emotional or mental health challenges.

“Many counties have ITFC programs, but Santa Barbara County never had one. It’s a whole unique team of resources,” said Suzanne Grimmesey, chief strategy officer with ADMHS. “We’ve done the best we can to offer that level of support to kids so we could keep them in the county. The whole goal is keeping the kids in the county.”

A 2011 court settlement requires that all children in the California foster care system have access to the full continuum of mental health services.

To run the program, the county has contracted with Family Care Network Inc., which also provides the Intensive Therapeutic Foster Care program in San Luis Obispo County.

“Rather than having the child placed in an institutionalized setting or a group home, [he or she] is placed in an individual home,” Grimmesey said, adding that, on rare occasions, two siblings are placed in the same home.

The foster parents are specially trained by Family Care Partnership to meet that individual child’s needs. They also receive ongoing support and guidance, 24-hour emergency assistance, and a monthly stipend for care.

“The foster care parents who do this program are incredibly special people who have demonstrated tremendous compassion by opening their homes to children who have experienced trauma,” Grimmesey said.

For more information about joining the program, contact Family Care Network at 866-781-3535 or bethedifference@fcni.org.